RAF Hercules transport aircraft enabled a historic first jump into southern Ukraine by over 200 British paratroopers this week.
Flying directly from their base at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire UK and carry out air-to-air refuelling on route, the C-130 aircraft dropped 250 soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade into the Ternivsky training area from a height of 600 feet as an opener for Exercise Joint Endeavour.
“The flexibility and agility of the RAF transport fleet was on show again this week with the C-130J Hercules clearly demonstrating the reach and versatility for which it is well known. While there have been plaudits for our recent humanitarian support efforts across the Globe, this week’s parachute insertion is a timely reminder of the unique role in we play in support of UK force projection.”Air Vice-Marshal Al Gillespie, Air Officer Commanding Number 2 Group.
Exercise Joint Endeavour, beginning on 22 September, will be the first multinational exercise in Ukraine since the country achieved NATO Enhanced Opportunity Partner status in June. The exercise will develop the relationship between the UK and Ukrainian armed forces, in turn providing both nations with vital experience of deploying rapidly from air to land to counter threats.
A total of 8,000 personnel including a small number from the USA and Canada will help Ukraine gain further experience of working closely with NATO militaries, sharing best practice and matching capabilities.
The UK and Ukraine have built a strong defence relationship in recent years, with British troops having trained over 18,000 members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the five years since the start of Operation Orbital, the UK’s training mission in the country. Established in 2015 following the annexation of Crimea by Russia a year earlier, Operation Orbital is a demonstration of the UK’s unwavering commitment to Ukrainian independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty.